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Barcelona

We arrived in Barcelona on the morning of June 5  – at the end of our amazing ten day cruise. After collecting out luggage we took a taxi to our hotel, The Avenida Palace which had been recommended by our travel agent. The hotel is very close to Plaza Catalunya and Las Ramblas so it proved to be very convienient during our stay.

We spent an 3 incredible days in Barcelona. We went non-stop for the entire visit but had an incredible time.  Winsome had done  significant amount of homework on Barcelona and with the help of her cousin Lana, our travel agent and others had pre determined some of the ‘must see’ venues in the city.

After dropping off our luggage at our hotel we spent the day walking around Las Ramblas & Plaza Catalunya. We enjoyed Las Ramblas and seeing how the mood of the street changes depending on the time of day. We were very concious of pickpockets as many of our friends and family had fallen victim on their visits.  Fortunately, we escaped without getting robbed. La Boqueria, the market on Las Ramblas is a very large market and should not be missed.  The sights, sounds and smells are incredible. We enjoyed walking up and down the numerous isles and checking out all the various stalls. The colours of the market are vivrant and Lionel really enjoys this type of photography – ‘street photography’, taking pictures of  people going about their daily lives.  Along our walk around the city we were fortunate to stumble across the Picasso Museum and ventured inside where we greatly enjoyed the amazing artwork.  Occasionally sitting on the outdoor patios & enjoying tapas and a drink while  watching people walk by was about the only relaxing time we had.

As recommended by Winsome’s cousin, Lana and our travel agent we purchased a two day pass for the Barcelona Bus Turictic.   It runs from 9 am – 9 pm and has three routes throughout the city and allows you to Hop On and Off as many times as you wish at any of the 45 stops. The bus arrives at each of the stops about every 5 minutes and  there are a number of interchange stops where these route overlap allowing you to change for one route to another along the way.  There are two main routes the Blue and Red, and each takes about 2 hours if you were to stay on the bus the entire time. There is a third route, the Green route, which only operates from April to October.  An informative printed guide about what is at each of the stops is issued with the ticket, as well as a discount voucher booklet to be redeemed at main sights and landmarks around the city.  This is an incredibly well run service which takes you to most of the significant attractions and we would highly recommend for anyone visiting the city.  Most days we were on the go from before 9 am until after 8 pm. By the end of each day we were totally exausted and did not have the energy to seek out any of the amazing restuarants for which the city is known and ended up eating at places close to the hotel.

One thing that really stands out in Barcelona is the mind blowing archecture by Antoni Gaudi. His work is prevelient  everywhere in Barcelona. When Gaudí graduated in 1878 from Barcelona’s School of Architecture, its director announced to his fellow teachers, “Gentlemen, we are here today either in the presence of a genius or a madman.”  The following link will take you to a great Time Magazine article on Gaudi from 2002 :

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,216477,00.html#ixzz20JYJp1Jm

While we enjoyed most of the attractions we visited in Barcelona there were a few that really stood out.

The Sagrata Famila

The Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions. Construction on this church will continue for at least another decade, but it has already become Barcelona’s most important landmark. La Sagrada Familia is one of Gaudí’s most famous works in Barcelona.  It’s a giant Basilica that has been under construction since 1882  and it’s not expected to be completed for another 30 to 80 years.

The idea for the construction of a new church was launched by a devout organisation whose goal was to bring an end to the de-christianisation of the Barcelonese, which had started with the industrialization and increasing wealth of the city. The organisation purchased a plot of land in the new Eixample district in 1877. The architect Francisco de Paula del Villar designed a neo-Gothic church and led the construction which started in 1882.  One year later, the modernist architect Antoni Gaudí took over as lead architect at the age of 31.  From that moment on, Gaudí devoted most of his life to the construction of the church. Instead of sticking to the original plans, Gaudí changed the design drastically.  The neo-Gothic style made way for Gaudí’s trademark modernist style, which was based on forms found in nature.  When he died in 1926 only one façade (the Nativity Façade), one tower, the apse and the crypt were finished.  Because Gaudí was constantly improvising and changing the design while construction was going on, he left few designs and models.  And most of these were destroyed in 1936 during the Civil War.  Still, architects now have a clear idea of what Gaudí had in mind. The last version of his design called for a church 95m/312ft long and 60m/197ft wide. The church will be able to accommodate some 13,000 people.  When finished, the Sagrada Família will have a total of 18 towers.

Parc Guelle
Parc Güell is one of the world’s most intriguing parks.  The park’s colorful main staircase and the fanciful pavilions that were designed by Antoni Gaudí look like they belong in some fairy tale.
This popular park started out as a development project.  Eusebi Güell, a well known Catalan industrialist, acquired a 17 hectare (42 acres) large hilly plot in the Gràcia district, north of Barcelona. He wanted to turn the area into a residential garden village based on English models.  Sixty housing units as well as several public buildings were planned.  In 1900 Güell commissioned his friend and protégé Antoni Gaudí with the development of the project. With the support from other architects including Josep M. Jujol and his disciple Francesc Berenguer, Gaudí worked on the garden village until 1914 when it was clear the project was a commercial failure: Güell failed to sell a single house. In 1918 the city acquired the property and in 1922 it was opened to the public as a park.
Two houses were completed as well as pavilions for visitors and park keepers. The pavilions, designed by Gaudí, seem to be taken out of Hansel and Gretel, with curved roofs covered with brightly colored tiles and ornamented spires. The staircase at the entrance of the park is also designed by Gaudí. The dragon-like lizard at the center of the with trencadis-ceramics decorated staircase is the best known symbol of the park. A connecting flight of stairs leads to another famous feature of the park: the Gran Placa Circular. Originally intended as a market place for the residents, this plaza is bordered by what was known as the world’s longest bench. The colorful ceramic serpentine bench, designed by Jujol, twists snakelike around the plaza.  The view from the plaza is spectacular, you can see as far as the Mediterranean Sea. The whole platform is supported by 86 huge columns, creating a hall beneath the plaza, known as the Sala Hipòstila.
We look forward to returning to Spain one day and visiting other cities.  A colleague from work, Martin,  has pledged that he and his future, but yet to be found wife will take Winsome and I on a driving tour of Spain.  Not sure which I am looking more forward to, meeting this lucky lady or the tour!
Categories: Uncategorized
Posted by LinWinAdventure on August 7, 2012
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. 08/10/2012
    Martin Moral

    Lionel, I am a man of my word. We will rent a car in Sevilla, the heart of the Flamenco dance, and drive through the costa del sol and hit Madrid. There’s nothing greater in life than hitting the local bars in Madrid for tinto de verano y tapas!

    But, I warn you, you’re already in the dog house with my current lady. I showed her this and here is what she has to say, “according to the comments I will never be your wife”.

    Reply
    • 08/11/2012

      Prove me wrong pal…It’s your fault for not introducing me! I look forward to meeting her in the near future. I would be happier that you will ever know to revise the last sentence….

      Reply

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